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I was chatting with my chiropractor, Mark, the other day about staying physically active to age in the healthiest way possible. He described his frustration in watching some of his healthiest patients lose their independence and vitality because they didn’t have a plan in place. The individuals are healthy, he explained, they are thriving, and then one day they just hit a wall and realize they are old. At that point they either keep active and keep pushing themselves to thrive, or they visibly began to deteriorate. You can see it in their behavior, their demeanor, and even the way they walk. One week they come in energetic and upright; the next the patient walks in at a slower pace, slightly drooping. There is no physical explanation, they just wake up feeling old and stop making an effort, and it quickly shows.
July 28 is National Parents Day, a day appointed by president Clinton in 1994 to acknowledge and honor the influence and effort parents have in their childrens’ lives as they are raised. We probably all would agree that being a parent doesn’t end when your last child leaves your home. The role may change and evolve but a parent never stops being significant to a child, no matter the age of either. Many of us lead busy lives, some of us have children of our own. Our parents, though valued, probably aren’t our top priority if they don’t have a specific pressing health concern or need that we are aware of. The reality is that the parents from our memories might not feel as young as they used to. Maybe they haven’t been diagnosed with a chronic illness or disease, but might be quickly approaching that “I feel old” wall. They might have already reached it, or worse, your parents might have some significant health problems but haven’t informed you because they fear they will become a burden to you.
Studies have shown that humans need and crave companionship. Isolation is a threat to wellness. Keeping in touch regularly with aging parents and loved ones gives the opportunity to spot health changes, or signs of impending health issues, before they become debilitating. Conversations to discuss your loved one’s wishes for aging, such as future housing, potential need for a caretaker, end of life care, etc should be had early on. Your aging parent(s) may be hesitant to discuss such topics. Bring them up anyway, but respect their needs and wishes as best as you can. Take notes. And, while your at it, talk about your own desires for aging.
In honor of National Parents Day, and in honor of your parents, plan to check in on them in person, if possible. Don’t forget about other aging loved ones, either. They might not have anyone else. Read our post on signs of aging for some specific warning signs to watch for. Aging is a normal part of life. Poor quality of life in old age doesn’t have to be the norm if we choose to be proactive in our health and wellness habits.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.